China the biggest patent filer in the world in 2011
It was only a question of time before China filed more patents per year than the USA and Japan. After a growth of 25% in 2009, they were almost there, but with the extra growth of 33% in 2010, the number of filed patents was set at 1.63 million !
Does this mean that China is now not only an economic world power, but also a world inventor? Not necessarily: the Chinese authorities have been pushing their companies for a while to file patents, for in their view, the number of patents represents the level of innovation.
Indeed, the number of patents is rocketing, but what about the quality? One has to keep in mind that there are three classes of patents in China: 'invention', 'utility models' and 'design' patents. Together the three classes count for 1.63 million filed patents in 2011, the number of 'invention' patents being only one sixth!
Still, this number is quite impressive, and the Chinese efforts to transform from a 'world supplier' into a 'world knowledge economy' will result without any question in an even larger growth of the number of filed patents in the next few years.
Patent readers : keep your Chinese dictionaries at hand!